The main road in the coastal mountains of southern California remained closed on Wednesday and evacuation orders were in place as a growing wildfire ravaged the area’s dry vegetation.
More than 760 Santa Barbara County firefighters battled the Alisal fire, which covered 21 square miles (54 square kilometers) along the coast and was only 5% contained, fire officials said County.
The blaze erupted on a ridge on Monday and swept toward the ocean, forcing the closure of US 101, the only major highway on this section of the coast. Evacuation orders and warnings were in place for the ranches and several rural communities.
The blaze threatened more than 100 homes, ranches and other buildings, fire officials said, and was burning near Rancho del Cielo, once owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
Meanwhile, in northern California, fire crews have stepped up containment of a blaze that destroyed 25 mobile homes, 16 RVs and a park building at Rancho Marina RV Park in the county. of Sacramento. No injuries were reported, and the cause remains under investigation.
In southern San Joaquin County, a man suffered severe third-degree burns over most of his body and about five mobile homes were damaged by the flames that swept through the Islandermobile home park.
This week’s fires were fueled by powerful gusts of wind sweeping through the state. The Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) utility cut power Monday to about 24,000 customers in targeted areas in 23 counties to prevent fires from starting if gusts damaged electrical equipment.
The windy weather then subsided somewhat and power was restored on Tuesday, but red flag warnings for extreme fire danger will return on Thursday and PG&E warned it may have to cut power at around 29 000 customers in 19 counties Thursday due to the renewed threat.
PG&E equipment was blamed for a fire in 2018 that wiped out much of the town of Paradise in Butte County. The company filed for bankruptcy and pleaded guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter. PG&E also faces criminal charges for fires caused by its unraveling equipment, including manslaughter counts after a fire near Redding last year killed four people.
A historic drought in the American West linked to climate change is making wildfires more difficult to fight. He killed millions of trees in California alone. Scientists say climate change has made the West much hotter and drier over the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and forest fires more frequent and destructive.
Windy weather is a nightmare for firefighters in a state where heat waves and historic drought have left forests and brush dry. The fires that started in late summer are still burning after destroying hundreds of homes.